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Republic of Congo (Brazzaville)
Official Name:

Republic of the Congo

Last Updated: February 24, 2017

Embassy Messages

Further Safety and Security Information

Travel Warnings: Issued when Protracted situations make a country dangerous or unstable. Defer or reconsider travel.

Travel Alerts: Issued when short-term conditions pose imminent threats. Defer or reconsider travel.

Embassy Messages: Issued when local security issues arise.

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Brazzaville

Boulevard Denis Sassou Nguesso 
Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo

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Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

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6 months

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

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1 page

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

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Yes, obtain in advance

VACCINATIONS:

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Yellow fever

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

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Not to exceed 5 million CFA ($10,000)

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

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Declare CFA over 1 million

Country Map

U.S. Embassy Brazzaville

Boulevard Denis Sassou Nguesso
Brazzaville
Republic of the Congo

Telephone: +242 06 612 2000 (Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.)

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +242 06 612 2010

See our Fact Sheet on Republic of Congo for information on U.S.-Republic of Congo relations. 

Requirements for Entry:

  • Passport
  • Visa, obtain before traveling
  • World Health Organization (WHO) card with yellow fever vaccination
  • Invitation letter or a hotel reservation (multiple copies)

Visit the Embassy of the Republic of the Congo website and "Before you go checklist" or the nearest Congolese embassy or consulate for tourist visa information and document requirements for work visas. Working without authorization is punishable by prison and/or deportation.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of the Republic of the Congo.

Find information on dual nationality, prevention of international child abduction, and customs information on our websites.

Political violence and civil unrest may occur. In the past, political demonstrations have led to armed clashes, deaths, and injuries.

Pool Region: Refrain from travel in the southern Pool region. Military operations after the April 2016 presidential election are ongoing following a series of attacks. Soldiers and police have been killed and thousands of civilians displaced. Rebel group (“Ninjas”) activity and armed banditry is sporadic.

ROC - DRC border: There is potential for insecurity in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in light of heightened tensions surrounding the country’s delayed presidential election.

Precautions:

  • Avoid demonstrations. Even events intended to be peaceful can become violent.
  • Maintain caution at public gatherings and areas frequented by foreigners.
  • Use vigilance during your movements around the country.
  • Be cautious when traveling outside of cities and along border areas.
  • Monitor news and consular messages.

National Parks and Wildlife Areas: Heed all instructions given by guides or trackers. Armed poachers are present in some parks and along the forested frontier with Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and the DRC. Ensure you have the proper medical and medevac insurance for safari/adventure tours.

Roadblocks: Undisciplined, armed soldiers or national police may conduct vehicle searches and check passengers for identity papers. These roadblocks often are poorly marked. Traffic police, identifiable by large numbers on their uniforms, may target foreigners to solicit bribes.

  • Comply with the local authorities. Remain courteous and calm.
  • Remain inside your vehicle with doors locked and open the window slightly to communicate.
  • Show documents through the window.
  • Report harassment to the U.S. Embassy.

Crime: Crime typically occurs at night. Armed bandits are active on roads in all areas of the country. Muggings and purse snatching are common in Brazzaville and Pointe Noire.

There has been a steady increase in:

  • Violent assaults against women, particularly at night in and near wooded areas of Brazzaville.
  • Rape, assault, roadside hold-ups, shots fired at vehicles, and theft along both main highways between Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire.
  • Reports of gang violence in the Brazzaville neighborhoods of Bacongo and Marche Total.

Except the section from the Yes Club to VIP Escale Demex, Pointe-Noire’s beaches are off-limits to U.S. Embassy personnel due to concerns of violent attacks and petty crime.

  • Stay away from beaches at night.
  • Avoid walking alone, especially after dark.
  • Do not display cash and valuables.
  • Dress conservatively. 
  • Drive with doors locked and windows closed.
  • Always carry a copy of your U.S. passport and visa. Keep original documents in a secure location.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime: Legal response or recourse is extremely limited.

U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault or domestic violence should first contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance.

Report crimes to the local police (French) at +242 06 665-4804 and the U.S. Embassy at +242 06 612 2000.

There is no functioning emergency line, although 112 and 118 may reach firefighters and gendarmerie. Police resources are limited and response times vary widely. Emergency services are limited in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire and virtually non-existent elsewhere. 

Local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime. When reporting a crime, you should ask for a police report. There is a CFA 15,000 franc charge for the police report ($26).

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the United States
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

For further information:

Consult the CDC website for the Republic of the Congo prior to travel.

Medical facilities and ambulance services are extremely limited and adequate only for stabilization and emergency care. There is a shortage of qualified medical personnel. Some medicines are in short supply, particularly in rural areas. Carry medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.

You are responsible for all medical costs. U.S. Medicare does not cover you overseas. Health care providers expect payment in cash CFA before treatment is performed.

Medical Insurance: If your health insurance plan does not provide coverage overseas, we strongly recommend supplemental medical insurance and medical evacuation plans.

Malaria is endemic. Use CDC recommended mosquito repellents including DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon, eucalyptus or IR3535. Sleep under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets. Chemoprophylaxis is recommended for all travelers even for short stays.

The following diseases are prevalent:

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yellow fever vaccinations are required for entry.

Further health information:

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. You may be taken in for questioning by the police if unable to produce an acceptable form of identification. Convictions for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs result in long prison sentences and heavy fines.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. Dual nationality is legally recognized; if however, Congolese officials prosecute you as a Congolese citizen, we may be limited in our ability to assist. See our webpage for further information.

Photography: It is illegal to take pictures of government buildings, military installations, key infrastructure such as ports, train stations, and airports, and along border areas. You could be detained or arrested, fined, and have equipment confiscated. Do not take photos of Congolese without their permission.

Phone Service: Cell phones are used extensively. SIM cards can be purchased locally to use with a compatible cell phone. Phone service is spotty, and data services slow and costly. Telecommunications systems outside of cities are unreliable or non-existent.

Currency: The Central African CFA franc (XAF) is the official currency. It is a cash economy. Higher class hotels in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire accept credit cards, although the machines often malfunction. ATMs dispense funds in local currency.

You must declare CFA over 1 million upon arrival with a bank or cashier’s receipt or risk fines and CFA confiscation.

Customs: Arts and crafts, particularly wooden objects, are subject to an export tax. Ask to speak with the airport supervisor if customs agents solicit bribes when you seek to export these items.

Artifacts: It is prohibited to export items of historical significance such as wood pieces, sculptures, and paintings. Violators risk imprisonment and heavy fines. For a list of prohibited items, contact a Congolese embassy or consulate.

Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: LGBTI individuals face societal discrimination and harassment. There have been reports of police in Pointe-Noire verbally, physically, or sexually abusing openly gay young men and harassing gay men in order to elicit bribes. There are, however, no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events.

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights Report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Access to transportation, lodging, and public buildings is limited. There are few sidewalks and no curb-cuts, and most buildings lack functioning elevators.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: Only a fraction of rapes are reported. Police reports verifying rape cost CFA 30,000 francs ($52) to cover medical examination and report expenses. Medical rape kits are available only in Brazzaville. In Pointe-Noire, only HIV tests are free for rape victims; all other laboratory tests are at the expense of the patient. Domestic violence is widespread but rarely reported.

See our tips for Women Travelers.

Road Conditions and Safety: Fatal accident rates are rising in areas with new highways, attributed to excessive speed, erratic driving habits, and lack of safety standards. Several highways have been completed, connecting the southern port city of Pointe-Noire to Brazzaville and to the northern town of Ouesso on the border with Cameroon and west to neighboring Gabon. However, most roads are dirt tracks and require an off-road vehicle; during the rainy season, September-December and February-May, they become impassable. Other hazards include pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchairs, and animals.                 

Be aware of increased risk of ambush and highway robbery when driving in rural or isolated areas. Carry:

  • spare tires
  • food and water
  • satellite phone
  • maps and navigation equipment
  • first aid kit
  • protective clothing

Service stations and fuel are scarce in rural areas. Professional roadside assistance is not available.

Traffic Laws: A valid U.S. state or international driver’s license is required. Use of cell phones while driving is prohibited.

Traffic stops:

  • Resist paying bribes. Politely ask for a ticket or for the officer’s name and badge number if no violation is alleged.
  • Ask to contact the U.S. Embassy if you are not released.
  • Report attempts to solicit bribes to the U.S. Embassy.

Accidents: Remain inside the vehicle and call for police. If a hostile mob forms, leave the scene and proceed directly to the nearest police station or gendarmerie to report the incident. Do not stop at the scene of an accident or at intersections where people have gathered.

Public Transportation

Buses

  • Travel can be unsafe due to reckless driving, overcrowding, poor vehicle maintenance, and the potential for crime.

Taxis

  • Hire only government authorized green and white taxis in Brazzaville and blue and white taxis in Pointe-Noire.
  • Maintenance varies greatly; taxis do not undergo routine inspections and are generally not air conditioned.
  • Negotiate fares before embarking since taxis are not metered. Most taxi drivers will round-up fares or not return change.

Railroads

  • The line between Pointe-Noire and Brazzaville is prone to criminal attacks, extortion by security forces, minor derailments, and frequent delays caused by mechanical issues.

Speed Boats

  • Accidents may occur but travel is relatively safe.
  • Expect delays since captains wait to fill seats before departing.
  • Operating hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily (stops 12 noon on Sunday) though service between Brazzaville and Kinshasa may close with minimal notice.
  • A visa is required to cross the Congo River between Brazzaville and Kinshasa (DRC).

See our Road Safety page for more information.

Visit the website of Congo’s national tourist office.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in the Republic of the Congo, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of the Republic of Congo’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

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